Saturday, June 29, 2013

Day 17,433 Gratitude: Raising My Ceiling

I am immensely proud of this sketch.  It's another Taos story.  (I really hope you aren't growing tired of them.)

Most days, I prefer quick-and-dirty drawings because they don't require a lot of time, energy or forethought.  When I play sketchy-beat-the-clock, I can (usually) circumvent circle-turning and other avoidance/procrastination behaviors.  The point is to capture some semblance of the subject ... FAST!  The downside to this approach is that it keeps me stuck in my comfort zone, which is not good for me or my journal.

I was fascinated by the ceiling in my room at Mabel Dodge with its tapestry of wood.  I can't say that my first instinct was to sketch it, fast or not.  But there was something about this one particular morning and its sense of spaciousness that beckoned me to capture the essense of it in my journal.  It felt like a lofty goal, but I knew that I would regret it if I didn't try and give it my wholehearted best effort.

Overall I would say that I spent close to three hours on it, with some breaks to regain my bearings.  I never would've believed I'd had it in me to capture such detail so accurately.  (At least accurately for/to me.)  Now that I know what I can do, my personal ceiling is raised.  A breakthrough of sorts.  I gave it the time it needed, this sketch, and in return it exponentially increased my confidence in my ability to really see and transmit that through my brush. 

I know that sketches like this one may be few and far between, but in the meantime I am so grateful for the lingering inspiration provided.  It fuels me to sketch on ... making room and time as needed ... being willing to draw (and be) bigger than I thought.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Day 17,431: Every Sketch is a Story

I can't promise that I'm going to keep sketching everyday.  For now, doing so keeps me connected to Taos, where showing up on the page came to me naturally.  I want to ride that wave for as long as I can.

I can't promise that every sketch will be good.  I'm human, just like everyone else, and with my humanity comes some vanity.  I would prefer to share only the sketches I love, but there is benefit to sharing those that I don't.  Sketches where I was heavy-handed and the paper deteriorated ... sketches when the pen misbehaved.  I'm a beginner.  I want to wear that proudly.  There is safety in vulnerability, so I take my opinion out of it and simply share.

What I can promise you is that every sketch is a story, so here is this one for you ...

Taos is timeless for me.  Literally.  I can't tell you on which day of the week it happened.  I can't even remember if it was morning or evening because, well, I honestly can't tell time out there.  I don't think it exists.  For me it feels like one long and exquisite right-now. 

So once upon one of these right-nows, Amy and I were sitting on the gravel covered porch, as had become our ritual.  This was our view:

I know, right?!  We spent a lot of time there, taking in and filling up with the magnitude of it all, but one of these precious times, a glistening caught me eye from amongst the rocks upon which our chairs sat. Nestled in the gravel was a faceted crystal bead.  We couldn't imagine where it came from or how it ended up there, but at a certain point during your stay in Taos you stop being surprised when things magically show up.  So after a moment of marveling, I picked up it, tucked it away and trusted that I would know what to do with it when it was time to do it.

And I did.  Today.  Wrapped it in a wee bit of argentium sterling silver wire with two matching beads to anchor it.  It, in turn, will anchor me until I can return.  For this little treasure and what it represents, I am so very grateful.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Day 17,430 Gratitude: Art Isn't Optional

I was already crispy dry by the time I reached the desert.  Even after a week by the sea just a month before.  The first half of 2013 was difficult.  Having my only child away at college for the first time ... difficult.  Losing a young colleague and friend suddenly, tragically ... difficult.  Unrelenting job stress ... difficult.  Suffice it to say, I dragged myself into Mabel Dodge Luhan House much the way a victim of shipwreck drags themself to shore.  Tattered and gasping.  I was starving for expansive art, beauty, and peace.

I received everything that I was looking for, needed and more.  I worried that my rekindled sketchbook journaling practice would be limited to Mabel's where my heart brims and I'm burden-free.  Thankfully, it traveled back home with me, along with considerable peace. 

We can't control which cards that life will deal us.  But we can slap on those cards some gel medium, slivers of ephemera, penwork and paint.  It's easy to forget about the option of art when we are otherwise in the thick of things.  But art really isn't optional.  Through the creative process, we can be buoyed and maybe even saved.  For this I am so very grateful.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Day 17,429 Gratitude: Drawn Forward

There is a saying ... "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."  I'm sure that it is in reference to attitude, but I see that it could apply to the artist ... the image that travels from the eye to and through the hand, pen and paintbrush. 

I was in Taos to help with the workshop and that was primary focus and responsibility.  But I was fortunate to have ample opportunity each day to draw something ... usually outside of class time, alongside and at the urging of Amy who took full advantage of her own precious time to sketch.  She wouldn't let me give up when frustrated or skip out when unmotivated, but rather gave me some patient and precious pointers ... particularly on perspective, which has been my biggest obstacle (on the page and off).  Again, "when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." 

This guidance and support, as well as being surrounded by so much beauty and inspiration, seem to have led me to a breakthrough in my sketchbook.  I'm back home and can't stop drawing.  My trepidation, for the most part, is gone.  I don't have to tell myself to show up ... I just do.  And my most recent sketches feel truer and clearer than ever before.  My greyhound finally looks like a dog!

Color me grateful ... and excited for what's to come.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Day 17,428 Gratitude: Of Moving Mountains

Alas, back home after ten days in Taos.  The theme of finding feathers continues.  Thankfully, the sketching continues as well.  There are so many stories of gratitude to share.  It must (for now, at least) suffice to simply but wholeheartedly thank my beloved friend and Wonder Twin, Amy Bogard, for her complete faith in my ability to help hold the space for and gentle hearts within her workshop that is so much more than just that.

No one leaves in the same condition as upon arrival.  The least of which would be me.  This place, the experience and those with whom I get to share it never fail to fill me up, expand me exponentially, and then crack me wide open.  I couldn't go there (literally or figuratively) without the ongoing blessing and support of my husband and daughter who somehow understand how much this trip means to me and the impact it has upon me, not only as an artist but a traveler in the deepest, rawest sense.  I've come home (yet again) a much better and more focused observer of the world around me, if not a better and more focused artist through my renewed hunger and eagerness to capture it.  Home again, I am fully fueled to maintain this perspective and momentum. 

But even thousands of miles away from it, Taos Mountain has my heart.  I am already counting the days until we are together again.  For that and all of the above, I am so very grateful. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Day 17,415 Gratitude: Finding Feathers

And so it begins.  The finding of feathers.  This is what Taos does.  One of many things.  In this case, before I even get there.  Feathers appear.  And appear.  And again.  Carrying with them messages of comfort and caring.

There are angels among us.  Always.  But in Taos, where the veil is whisper-thin, their presence is especially palpable.  

For winged and feathered companions on the journey, I am so very grateful.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Day 17,414 Gratitude: Stories of Stories

I've been thinking a lot about the role of stories in my life.  The stories I hear.  The stories I tell.  Which stories get shared.  Which stories get spared. 

I could tell you four dozen stories about what I've been doing (and not doing) in the six weeks since my last post, but I've never been very good at catching up on backlogs.  Sometimes it's best to let such things burn.  Start anew.  All that really matters right now is right now.

In this particular right now, I am looking into an open suitcase, trying to remember what I really need in the Land of Enchantment.  It's always less than I think.  My needs are few and simple there. So I keep paring down my pile. 

The high desert suits me, serves me.  I always come back from Taos a better, brighter, and clearer me.  Always.  And for that and all of its implications, I am so deeply grateful.